On Mar. 22, 2022, the Anti-Doping Division of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), a Swiss-based international athletic regulatory body, issued a press release stating that Kazakh weightlifter and 2016 Olympic Champion Nijat Rahimov will serve an eight-year suspension for a doping offense.
According to the release, the CAS reached a decision following an Apr. 29, 2021 injunction request against Rahimov which was initially filed by the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF). Pursuant to the sanction by the CAS on behalf of the IWF, Rahimov’s ineligibility period will have retroactively begun on Jan. 18, 2021 and run for eight full years.
The 77-kilogram gold medalist from the Rio Olympic Games will also have all of his competition results between Mar. 15, 2016 and Jan. 18, 2021, purged along with any medals, points, and prizes he may have won.
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Rahimov was initially brought up on charges of Violation of Use of a Prohibited Method by the International Testing Agency (ITA) in January of 2021, which the Kazakh lifter challenged. The matter was subsequently brought before the Sole Arbitrator at the CAS, who found Rahimov to be guilty of urine sample substitutions, a violation of IWF Anti-Doping Article 2.2.
As such, the CAS upheld the ITA’s allegation against Rahimov despite his legal challenge.
Nijat Rahimov’s Weightlifting Career
Rahimov was a mainstay of the Kazakh weightlifting roster throughout the 2010s. According to the IWF competitive result registry, he partook in nine IWF events between 2015 and 2019 since his debut at the IWF Grand Prix in 2015. Rahimov won gold in the Total at the 2015 World Weightlifting Championships.
One year later at the Rio Olympic Games, Rahimov narrowly defeated Chinese weightlifter and veteran competitor Lu Xiaojun.
Rahimov vs. Xiaojun at the 2016 Olympic Games Men’s 77KG
- Nijat Rahimov (KAZ) — Snatch 160, 165X, 168 / Clean & Jerk 202, 214, X
- Lu Xiaojun (CHN) — Snatch 170, 175, 177 / Clean & Jerk 197X, 197, 202
Note: All weights are in kilograms. The “X” next to the number denotes an unsuccessful attempt — Rahimov declined to take his final clean & jerk.
At the Men’s 77-kilogram session in Rio, Xiaojun had exceeded Rahimov by a full 12 kilograms at the conclusion of the snatch.
However, he made a massive jump on his second clean & jerk from 202 kilograms (445.3 pounds) to 214 kilograms (471.7 pounds) and successfully made the lift to tie Xiaojun’s result in the Total (no medals are awarded at the Olympic Games for individual lifts).
As Rahimov was the lighter man in Rio, weighing in just 0.64 kilograms under Xiaojun, he was awarded the Olympic gold medal. The IWF would remove this rule later in 2016, instead opting to award the higher placing to the athlete who hits the given weight (or Total) first.
The CAS’ penalty will include a forfeiture of Rahimov’s Olympic medal which will presumably be awarded retroactively to Xiaojun. If this is the case, this will mark a historic third Olympic Games gold medal for the Chinese athlete (2012, 2020).
With the Rio gold joining his highly extensive list of accolades, Xiaojun will enter an elite cohort of Olympic Champions with three wins, including Greek lifters Pyrros Dimas and Kakhi Kakhiashvili, as well as Turkish athletes Halil Mutlu and Naim Süleymanoğlu.
Featured Image: @nijat.raximov on Instagram